Here then is a list of advice for a new skier. It can also be used by would-be instructors to help you give a novice the best possible skiing experience.
Boots should allow you to wiggle your toes. If you can't wiggle your toes, then your feet will be cold. But, boots should not allow you to turn your foot side-to-side within the boot. If you can turn your foot inside the boot, you won't have a chance to control your skis.
Of course, getting exactly between those two parameters generally requires your own boots, and a custom fit, so as a compromise, maybe you can wiggle your toes, but with effort. Or maybe your foot moves side-to-side, but only slightly. Try several pairs of boots your first time - not every boot marked the same size is actually the same size (even if they are the same brand and model). This extra effort will be annoying, but worth it.
Better yet, rent your equipment from a ski shop a day in advance of your first ski experience. You won't feel rushed, and they should have a wider variety of boots to let you try, as well as much better advice about fit.
If you didn't rent your boots in advance, finding a good fit will be a problem. Socks can help here. Bring two pairs of socks for your first outing, a thin pair, and a medium-thick pair. Then choose the socks based on how the boots seem to be fitting. You may even find you wear a thin sock on one foot and a thicker sock on the other, because the boots won't match exactly.
At least wear shells (nylon waterproof pants with no padding or insulation). But I recommend thick ski pants for beginners. This is for the padding more than for the cold. A beginner will fall enough that even if the snow is soft, they may get bruised without padding. The ski pants will also help keep your butt warm on the lift.
Similarly, your jacket should also be waterproof. It doesn't matter how heavy it is. Just wear layers. That way you can add or remove layers as needed. I also recommend a zippered jacket, not a pullover. If you can open the jacket when you're hot, then you won't sweat too much (if you sweat too much, and then get cold, you'll never be warm again).
Gloves must also be waterproof. If they are lightweight gloves, you'll probably want a liner. If gloves are too tight, it will reduce circulation and your hands will be cold. Some heaver gloves may start tight, and then open up as the insulation stretches. I've found that using liners for a few minutes to start, and then removing them can stretch gloves open so that they are warmer.
Now (in 2012), things have changed. Helmets are becoming standard equipment. A helmet will protect your head, protect you from seizures, protect you from death, keep your head warm, and because they're much more common, you won't look like a dork. So wear one.
First, start out warm. When you go out into the cold, you should be a little too warm, not quite sweating but close. Then the cold will feel good to you for the first minute or two. As you start to feel cooler, start moving. The colder you are, the more you should move. When I get particularly cold, I just push myself around the flat areas at the top or bottom of the slope with my poles. Just a minute or two of this should be enough to get you very warm, if you are dressed properly.
You may be warm in general but cold in spots. For the toes, wiggle them while you are waiting in line. Do the same for the fingers, and also flex your wrists. For neck, chin, nose, and especially ears, the rule is to simply keep them covered. If your body is warm but these parts are cold it is almost always because you left them completely bare.
Getting too hot can be a problem too. If you are sweating a tiny bit that's fine. If you are sweating a lot, you are too hot. Your sweat will make parts of you very cold, even while other parts are still too hot. To deal with this, don't be afraid of opening your coat, or removing your hat or gloves, for just a minute, or for the day. If your parent worried too much about this, you might find it tough to do, but trust your body -- if it is hot, you need to cool it. (This kind of exposure will NOT cause you to catch a cold. It will aggravate an existing condition, but if you have a cold, what are you doing on the ski slopes?).
How much clothing is a tough call, and you have to learn from experience, because everyone's body deals with heat differently. It will depend on how hard you are working, how windy it is, whether it is sunny or cloudy, wet or dry. Still, I'll try to give you a rough starting point for a few different temperature ranges.
35-40 and sunny
You'll be very warm as long as you keep moving. light sweatshirt or heavy long-sleeve tee-shirt may be all you need under your jacket. Just shorts or light sweats under your ski pants. The heavy ski pants will be too hot, but your first day you'll want the padding. Lightweight gloves. Probably no head covering needed.
25 and sunny/30 and cloudy/35 and cloudy and very windy
Thermal shirt, medium sweatshirt, zipper jacket on top. sweats and ski pants on bottom. Cover your ears with a headband. Medium gloves.
10-15 and cloudy
Thermal shirt, warm sweater, jacket on top (or, three thin layers under the jacket). Thermal underwear, light sweats, ski pants on bottom. Cover your ears, neck, and chin.
10 below zero and windy
Thermal shirt, light sweatshirt, medium sweater, jacket on top. Thermal underpants, cotton shorts, warm sweats, ski pants on bottom. Thickest good quality gloves. Ski goggles. Ears, neck, chin must be covered. Must have something you can pull up over your nose. Head should be covered, but with something that you can remove and still have your ears covered.
If your friend is not perfect, I'd recommend paying for a lesson. Group lessons are fine if you are naturally athletic, otherwise get a private instructor so you can go at your own pace.
The hard part is getting up. Now the irony here is that the steeper the hill is, the easier it is to get up (because you have less far to go). The problem is that the boots keep you from flexing your ankles, so you can't get your legs under you very well.
Get your feet downhill from you, and tuck them as close to your butt as you can. Then push yourself up onto your feet in a squatting position (use the poles if you have to) and then stand up. If you have a few frustrating failures, let your friend or instructor help you up -- you'll get plenty more opportunities to get up later, and the frustration can be the biggest enemy.
What is often not explained very well, and is hard to do regardless, is to tilt your skis inwards towards each other. To do this, you have to pull your knees together, and continually push your feet apart. If that doesn't make sense, think of the bow of a boat: the sides are angled in towards each other (i.e. towards the bottom of the boat), and they push the water apart. Of course, you can't possible tilt your skis nearly as much the sides of a boat, but without some tilt, you won't have any control over your speed, or your direction -- you'll skid sideways, do the splits, and cross your skis. My suggestion is that you work with someone that knows what they're doing before you hit the slopes, so you can at least have a basic notion of how to proceed once you're on snow.
First you will always turn with more weight on the outside foot (e.g. on a left turn, your weight is on your right foot). So shift your weight to the outside foot - one way to do this is to slightly lift your other foot (not off the ground, just put less weight on it).
Second, turn your body in the direction of the turn. Huh? But how you say. Try this experiment. Stand up, on one foot, and twist your body. (If on your right foot, turn your body to face left). You can probably do this intuitively. If you pay attention, what you do is lift the heel, and turn on the ball of the foot. On skis, you should also have the weight on the ball of the foot to turn, although the rear of the ski won't actually lift off of the ground. Because of the skis, you'll have to do the twisting motion a little more agressively than when standing on one foot, but it is the same basic motion.
|My Home||Professional Home||TomSaraZac Home||Work Email|